“It’s a big car gathering,” that will be coming to Vicksburg for the 35th annual Old Car Festival, according to Skip Knowles, the originator of the event in 1980. “We try to keep it fun, with not a lot of rigid rules or structure, just car folk having a good time.”
That good time on June 12 and 13 in downtown Vicksburg includes something for everyone, he said, although the festival hasn’t changed much since the first few years because it has been so successful. It is offered under the auspices of the Vicksburg Community Association (VCA) which stands to benefit if it makes a few dollars. “It’s not about the money, as we are lucky if we break even. It’s the atmosphere where car guys come for the camaraderie and getting recognized for their vehicles. Others could care less, they just enjoy getting together,” Knowles said.
Cruise Night is on Friday around 5 p.m. to kick off the event, when street rods cruise in, park their cars, put up the hood, and just socialize.
With an all-volunteer crew, Knowles and his sons Chad and Ryan don’t get much sleep as they move around the village early Saturday morning, setting up the street barricades to get ready for the first car—which might show up by dawn. Knowles is also enlisting his grandchildren, Anna and Anthony, teaching them where all the cars need to go up and down Main and Prairie Streets.
They are joined by the fire department volunteers who offer a pancake breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. at the village station on the corner of S. Main and Washington streets. The Depot Museum and the Historic Village on Richardson Street will be open for tours and old cars by 9 a.m., with the Tin Can Tourists exhibiting their special brand of hospitality on the grounds of the Village.
Visitors to downtown Vicksburg will be treated to live music on Main Street with the high school jazz band. There will be special guest display cars on the corners of Main and Prairie streets and an Arts & Craft Show from 9 – 4 in Clark Park. Apple Knockers Ice Cream Parlor will stage its annual Hot Dog Eating contest in the afternoon in the parking lot beside their store.
Gail Reisterer with her crew of volunteers will again be organizing the Vicksburg District Library’s annual book sale from 10 – 4 p.m. in the lower level of the building at 215 Michigan Avenue. The Vicksburg Community School Foundation’s (VCSF) annual Duck Derby Race will take place at 1 p.m. in Clark Park. It too is a fund raiser for the VCSF, featuring hundreds of rubber ducks with numbers written on their backs, floating down the waterway to the joy or consternation of those who think they have purchased the winning ticket.
The thousands of visitors to the show are invited to judge the entries with trophies awarded between 3:30 and 4 p.m. With a final roar, the cars will be gone, the streets will be emptied, and the village cleanup crews will take over. By 5 p.m., residents would hardly know there were 10,000 visitors passing through the village on the day of the Old Car Festival.